Just over a month has passed since the Swedish parliamentary, municipal and regional elections. A result that was for many both joyous and alarming – all in the same time. For me, as a member of the liberal movement in Sweden that lost the reigning power, it was just bitter, bitter and bitter. The election resulted in a new minority government – consisting of the Social Democrats (31 %) and the Greens (6,9%)– and also confirmed the upward/rising trend of the nationalistic and populist Swedish Democrats who received 12.9% of the votes, almost tripling in size since the last elections in 2010.
It was a hard result to swallow for Sweden. Most of us have always regarded our country and ourselves as open and welcoming toward immigrants, especially those who are fleeing from war and suffering, an image that has also been spread around the world. For us to now have a xenophobic party that advocates closing our borders as the third largest party induces what I can only regard as an identity crisis among Swedes.
Shortly after the results were revealed late Sunday night countless Facebook statuses were posted. Some of them – which I saw on my feed – were: “We are the 87 % whom didn’t vote for the Swedish Democrats” or “Please unfriend me if you were one of those who voted for the Swedish Democrats”. These posts show the dichotomy that Sweden now suffers from. It is a questionable strategy to shame or scare the Swedish democratic voters in order to stop them from sympathizing with a party which, in any case, cements the “them” and “us” feelings in Swedish politics. Nevertheless, let us get back to why. Why has Sweden joined the group of countries in Europe who have a extreme-right and populist party within their parliaments? From the Golden Dawn in Greece, Jobbic in Ungary, Ukip in London, Front National in France, Danske Folkeparti in Denmark to Fremskrittsparti in Norway. These parties are all a part of the brown wave that washes over Europe. Some more or less populist and xenophobic but all extreme-right parties.
Long has the former Swedish government, led by the Moderate Party, celebrated its stance on this issue. Since the entrance in the parliament of the Swedish Democrats in 2010 the political heavy-weight parties have put down their foot and not moved an inch to the right, unlike in some other countries. Although we have had a xenophobic party in parliament we have, throughout the last four years, opened our borders even more towards the world and accepted more immigrants to our country.
At the same time the parties that have turned their back to the Swedish Democrats have also turned their back to the voters of the Swedish Democrats. Few parties have wanted and accepted a debate with the Swedish Democrats and refused to lift issues on integration in fear that it will be perceived as a move to the right or some kind of flirt with the oh-so-hated Swedish Democrats. But was this right? In hindsight, we see that the opposite effect took place instead. According to the latest election results, there is now even more sympathy for the Swedish Democrats.
Some say that this is so because of the two left and right coalitions that seven of the eight parties are a part of, reducing the election to feel as if it was between three parties instead of eight. Others may say it is because of the stigmatizing, marginalizing of the Swedish Democrats which in fact helped them gain more votes. Or because no one wants to talk about the problems of integration since they will be labelled as racist. Either way Swedish Democrats, Sweden’s xenophobic party, are now the third largest party and are also now holding the determining vote between the two coalitions. The Swedish peoples’ self-perception has forever been changed.
Ström Melin, Annika. “Strategierna Biter Inte På Nationalisternas Uppgång.” Dagens Nyheter [Stockholm] 20 Se
pt. 2014: 12-13. Print.